I guess you could think of it as a ‘Carry On’ moment… Traipsing around Manchester on Saturday, heavy bags of Christmas shopping clenched in both fists, a shoulder pack lassoed around my neck and my right foot skidded across an icy patch on a dropped kerb. My body reacted to save me the embarrassment of falling on my behind and arms, bags and one leg flailed in the air.
Instead of bruised bum, however, I had that familiar breath-taking stab in my right buttock followed by an intense pain shooting down to my Achilles.
Ah yes, my old friend the sciatic nerve on fire again.
Regular readers will know that I’ve been here before.
Truth be told, my back is knackered. My spine is riddled with osteoporosis and I had a microdiscectomy on two prolapsed discs six years ago. Not bad for a 36 year-old.
Surgery was a last resort. I’d endured six months of very painful physiotherapy and sleepless nights. I lost four stone and developed an alarming tolerance to codeine.
The surgery was a complete success and I have never had a reoccurrence of that problem. I say this with confidence, as any new frailties in my spine do not compare.
Stretching and strengthening gets the pain under control now rather than reaching for the medicine cabinet.
Two years ago, I was lucky enough to find a physio who ‘works’ for me. I say ‘lucky’ as this can be a gamble. There are many practitioners and techniques that can help such as remedial massage, heat treatment, chiropractic… the list goes on and I’ve tried a fair few.
Finding a practitioner who understands your problem and respects your mobility goals – in my case getting back on the bike and backpacking – is key.
During my last pain episode, and based on previous experience, I feared the worse. However, I discovered that physical therapy could work. You have to invest time and effort, and be patient. In return, you develop a deep understanding of how you body works and appreciate the sometimes-subtle warning signs that all is not well.
Perhaps I was a bit unlucky this time and a bit stupid carrying all that shopping when conditions were treacherous underfoot. I will remain positive, though, as I know I can work through it.